The Egyptian government ordered a cull of all pigs. Western popular opinion sees it as an attack on the Christian minority. That perception indicates more the Western mindset than reality.
A day or two after the appearance of 'swine flu', the Egyptian government announced it was slaughtering all 300,000 pigs in the country. Initially, it said the measure was a public safety measure. Egypt had suffered about 25 deaths from bird flu, and the government didn't want to be caught out again.
Within about 48 hours, international expert opinion began to come to a consensus that a cull is not necessary, that once the flu has spread to humans, it is more likely to continue spreading via humans, not via pigs. Indeed, there seemed to be an opinion that the mere idea of flu transferring from pig to man is laughable, which it isn't - it is possible.
The Egyptian government came out with a revised opinion: this measure isn't about avoiding swine flu only, it's also about restructuring pig rearing in Egypt. Pigs are not bred in farms in Egypt, instead they tend to be hemmed in with garbage and left to do what they like. These dumps-with-pigs tend to be inside Cairo,
This Economist article does a good job of succintly explaining some aspects of the rubbish-and-pigs set-up.
I can't say I've conducted a comprehensive survey of British opinion via the media, internet and street opinion, but it was very interesting to me that the story was given an immediate Christian-Muslim angle. "The pigs are reared by Christians, eaten by Christians, thus when the (Muslim-dominated) government orders a cull of pigs, this is clearly aimed at the Chrstians, it's a subtle form of persecution, it's Islamist opinion getting strident and using a health-scare to score 'told-you-so' points. After all, the Muslims don't eat pork because they believe it to be unclean, and so Muslims can now gloat about their religion's wisdom and have an excuse to kill off all pigs."
I live in the UK, so I'll take aim now at British hypocrisy. For a country that culled cows - when there was the mad cow disease scare, a country that undertook an equivalent of a holocaust in the history of sheep (killing almost ALL sheep in the UK) - because of foot-and-mouth disease, I found this particular strand of British opinion to be shameless. So those Egyptians are backward, unscientific, driven by medieval religiousity, but we Brits, we took things slowly, one step at a time, and only escalated to a complete cull when we had no choice. I see.
Same outcome! Human beings kill animals at will: If it comes down to: us or the animals, light up the furnaces.
And let me just follow the logic here: we do NOT want to kill animals in a mass-slaughter fashion because ... ?? We want to fatten them up, and hela-hopp, slaughter them when the market needs them.
It's the synchronised killing that's the problem here. If we could just stagger the process, mix-it-up a little, not have them all scream at the same time, that'd be fine. Spread it out. Maybe Mondays and Tuesdays, and the fourth Thursday of every month. That's all we're talking about here, y'know what I mean?
Incredibly, this is now exactly the Egyptian government's policy. It will spread the cull out over the next several months.
Egyptians have this instinctive understanding (sometimes) of how to stroke other people's egos. Okay, so you're offended because pigs have got nothing to do with spreading the flu? Oh, well, erm, it was an overdue, much-needed restructuring of pig rearing. You guys still not happy? Okay, we'll spread it out, we won't have a bloodbath, promise. Happy? Tell you what, we'll financially compensate the rubbish collectors, and parade a bunch of doctors wearing masks and holding giant injection needles in front of the world's cameras - that should reassure you. Still, no? Okay, get a female lead doctor, let the leader of the medical operation be a woman, and let her talk about all the _humane_ precautions the team's taking. Get all men out of the camera frame, repeat, leave the uncovered, decent-looking, well-qualified female lead to take the full shot. Thank you.
What, still not happy!
PS. Vegeterianism is the solution.